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County impress with the bat
HALF-centuries from Vikram Solanki, Daryl Mitchell and Phil Hughes ensured Worcestershire made a solid start to their LV= County Championship Division One contest with Somerset at New Road.
The County closed day one of their final four-day match before the competition takes a back seat to Twenty20 cricket on 270-3 with Solanki unbeaten on 82, after skipper Mitchell (80) and Australian overseas batsman Hughes (53) had given the hosts a solid platform.
Mitchell won the toss and took first use of a flat wicket under blue skies and, while the runs didn’t flow readily, the captain and his fellow opener, Aussie Hughes on his first-class debut for the club, worked hard to occupy the crease.
Scoring was slow, but wickets were kept in hand as Worcestershire’s first two batsmen advanced the score to 77 without loss at lunch.
The left-handed Hughes batted less fluently than he had in Sunday’s CB40 win over Middlesex where he made a hundred on his first appearance for the New Road side but, nonetheless, he reached his half-century.
The former Test opener had more than his fair share of play-and-misses, but brought up his 50 off 101 balls with five fours.
The opening pair reached a three-figure stand in the 40th over, but Hughes was then sent back to the pavilion after he chanced his arm once too often and nicked former Worcestershire second XI player Peter Trego through to Craig Kieswetter.
Mitchell reached his own battling half-century in the 49th over and Worcestershire moved past 150, before reaching the tea break on 163-1.
Somerset bowled with good control for most of the day, but it took the occasional off-spin of Arul Suppiah to make the breakthrough. The part-time bowler struck in his first over as Mitchell edged one to Kieswetter for a patient 80 (225 balls, 10 fours).
After a relatively cautious start, Solanki warmed to the task in hand and rolled out his full array of shots. There are few finer sights than the former England batsman dispatching the ball to all corners of New Road on a sunny afternoon.
And, with Moeen Ali playing the role of eager apprentice to the old master Solanki, the pair combined to add a brisk 50 partnership.
However, despite having taken Suppiah for 14 the over after Mitchell was dismissed, Moeen couldn’t build on his bright start and was trapped lbw by Trego with the first ball of a new spell.
As the day drew to a close and with a second batting bonus point secured, the Worcestershire batsmen began to adopt a more cautious approach and Solanki and James Cameron (14no) were able to see their side to stumps.